A team from Mexico included physical traits and selected nuclear and mitochondrial DNA sequences in its analysis of two Mexican sheartail hummingbird (Doricha eliza) populations. As they reported in PLOS One, the researchers used data generated with feather samples from 15 D. eliza representatives from the Yucatan Peninsula and 10 from central Veracruz to determine that those D. eliza populations likely became isolated from one another prior to climate shifts in the regions that enhanced the split between them. The work also provided a look at D. eliza relationships to a sister species called D. enicura, which includes slender sheartail hummingbirds.
In PLOS Biology, members of the Marine Microbial Eukaryote Transcriptome Sequencing Project (MMETSP), describe efforts to sequence hundreds of transcriptomes as a means of characterizing the functional diversity associated with eukaryotic microbes in ocean. The international MMETSP team, led by investigators in Canada and the US, sequenced and annotated the transcriptomes more than 650 eukaryotic marine microbes. Many of the RNA sequences came from microbes that can be cultured in the lab, the study's authors note. Even so, they say, the resulting transcriptome dataset "serves as an example of how purpose-built reference databases focused on a particular niche or environment can be established relatively quickly and efficiently."
A PLOS Pathogens study suggests that SNP and copy number variants in the genome of the parasitic protozoan Leishmania donovani are important in determining whether the pathogen will cause cutaneous forms of leishmaniasis or more serious visceral forms of the disease. Researchers from Canada, the US, and Sri Lanka used mouse model experiments, genome sequencing, transcriptomic testing, and bioinformatics analyses to assess Sri Lankan L. donovani isolates from patients with either cutaneous or visceral leishmaniasis. While the presence of pseudogenes or gene deletions did not appear to differ between isolates involved in cutaneous or visceral infections, their results indicated that variants in a relatively small set of genes could affect disease pathology.